Mom’s Hands

December 10th 2007, marked the 23rd anniversary of Mom’s death. In some ways it seems like only a couple of years have passed since that day. Other times it feels like a century has gone by. I was twenty years old then, and almost turning twenty-one.

A few years after Mom died, the movie Beaches came out. I will never forget the part of the movie, when the mother looks at her hands, and wonders if her daughter will remember her.

I remember Mom’s hands, though the mental picture of them is sometimes hard to visualize. I am fortunate, I suppose, for I can look down at my own hands and see hers. She passed that on to me. I inherited the short fingers and wide palms from my Mom. 

But more than what her hands looked like, it is how they felt that I can remember most. Mom’s hands were sometimes gentle, and sometimes firm. They were the hands that caressed me as a child. The fingers that ran through my hair, and played with the little curl at the base of my neck (something else I inherited from her).

When I was sick, Mom’s hands were the ones that rubbed me down with alcohol (not advised by today’s doctors, by the way). Mom’s hands prepared the egg nog she would make for me. In today’s world, the doctor’s would flinch over such a remedy. Whether it was the egg nog, or just the fact that Mom made it for me, I don’t know. But somehow it always made me feel better.

Mom’s hands were the ones I felt on my behind when I had done something wrong. I wasn’t hit too often as a child, but I remember being threatened with “THE PADDLE.” Relatives will know what I’m talking about. The paddle hung on display, and was used a threat more than as an actual punishment. Even so, I knew it would be Mom’s hands that would be wrapped around that wooden thing if it came to it. The thought of that alone scared me enough to change my attitude.

Mom’s hands were the ones that were also wrapped around my favorite book as a kid. I remember sitting against her on the couch, as she read my favorite story about the girl who went to her grandmother’s farm, and befriended a horse.

Mom’s hands were the ones that prepared countless meals, and washed endless dishes in the sink. I remember every Thanksgiving eve, Mom would sit at the table cutting up the turnip. Those hands were strong ones, I learned. For I now know that turnip is not easy to cut with a kitchen knife!

Those strong hands rescued me from danger many times. Even when I rebelled against them as a teenager, those hands kept coming back to hold me.

Mom’s hands clapped for me when I graduated high school, and the community college. When I went away to college at St. Leo’s, those hands kept busy writing to me every day. The hands could not hold me then, but I was caressed by the words they wrote.

The last time I saw Mom alive was in the early morning hours, when my cousin and I left Massachsetts to drive to college in Florida. I was standing in the kitchen with a six pack of diet coke in my hand. Mom’s hands wrapped around me for a quick hug. I wish now that my hands were free, and could have hugged her back.

Many years have now gone by since I last felt Mom’s hands upon me. And yet, if I really try, I can almost feel them again now. The hands that bathed me, soothed me, wiped my nose, and dried my tears, were the caring hands of my mother.

The short but firm hands which I have inherited from Mom are just a physical trait. What is most important are the things those hands represent. Mom used hers as an outreach of love. That is what I strive to do with my hands now. The gift of love is the greatest inheritance, and I am proud that I received that gift from both my Mom and my Dad.

So to answer the woman’s concern from the movie Beaches, I can say “It is possible.”

We can remember the hands that soothed our sorrows, and that clapped for us in endless support.

Our memories are stirred by the feelings those hands evoked. Mom’s hands gave me love. And the feeling of that love is something we never forget.

For those of you who knew her, I hope you’ll take a moment and remember my Mom today. Remember the hands that reached out to you in some way. Mom’s hands, that brought you love.

Today I’m honoring Mom for all that she was, and all that she accomplished through her loving hands,

Thank you, Mom. I will love you always!